By Caroline Durham
Jean Earnhardt sat down with the Triangle Land Conservancy in her home to discuss her conservation easement and the legacy of the land she calls home.
Easement Name: Lloyd-Andrews Historic Farmstead
Year Conserved: 1997
Q: Why did you want to permanently protect your land with a conservation easement?
A: There were a lot of reasons. It was at a time when that sort of thing was just getting started and, of course, there was Bob Nutter (owner of Maple View Farms), who was such an inspiration around here. The idea just started percolating and there are not a lot of things you can do that are monumental, and I think that doing an easement is one of those things. We felt like it would be our legacy and I have such fond memories of this place. When I was a child, we never lived in North Carolina, but we would visit every summer and maybe holidays. Back then, it was a pretty primitive place. I mean, there was no electricity. I feel like I am a link to a very distant past and we knew how tempting [development] would be since we live next to Carrboro and Chapel Hill. We felt a sense of urgency to go ahead and do it to protect this place.
Q: How did you know you wanted to work with TLC on this project?
A: People were just starting to talk about conservation and TLC was the closest and most logical choice for us. Kate Dixon (former Executive Director of TLC) was such an incredible person and spoke so eloquently about conservation easements. It is nice to know that we are sending clean water right on down to Bolin Creek, which goes all the way through Carrboro and Chapel Hill. They don’t even know we are doing that for them.
Q: Do you have any special places on your property that you’d like to talk about?
A: Well, certainly the log cabin is a special place. My father was born there and then my grandfather lived there until he built the farmhouse in 1898. The pond is also a neat place. We have the Great Blue Heron who is usually down there. The trails are special and we have one very old trail that goes all the way up through the 599 acres that my ancestors first owned. They walked or rode mules to see each other. So, when I’m on those old trails, I think about how the trail has been trodden by a lot of my ancestors.
Q: How has your land use changed since you’ve been under a conservation easement?
A: The biggest change happened when my grandfather died, which was right at the end of World War II, because that’s the last time that it was really farmed. It’s just really been a family living place since then. We just wanted to keep it as it was, so we kept the cabin and other old residences that we have restored. We just wanted to keep the fields open and keep it feeling like a farm.
Q. Is there anything else you would like other TLC landowners to know?
A. I am awfully glad there was such an organization as TLC otherwise we couldn’t have done this. I’ve seen TLC grow so much over the years. When we first did this easement, we were invited to make a presentation at a meeting in Washington, D.C. and it was quite an event for me. We got a little noticed back in the beginning.
Q. Did they invite you because you were some of the first people doing this kind of thing?
A. It must have been that, yeah. It’s not a small tract, but 120 acres is nothing compared to Brumley. It was maybe a little more personal than other easements were at the time. This was really preservation of a farmstead and a home place.